4 arrested over alleged sale of fake cigarettes

The cigarettes were allegedly sold to grocery stores in Shanghai, and the gang made 4 million yuan within four months, police said.

Four people were detained for allegedly selling fake cigarettes, Shanghai police said yesterday.

Police are hunting another suspect.

One of those arrested, a man surnamed Zhang, and his wife allegedly sold the fake cigarettes to grocery stores and made over 4 million yuan (US$605,000) within four months this year.

Police in Qingpu District started investigation in late July after they found clues.

Zhang, his wife and a man surnamed Zong, who delivered the cigarettes to the couple, soon emerged as suspects. A man surnamed Pan and his wife, surnamed Zhan, were suspected to be the source of the cigarettes.

In a raid at the flat of Zhang and his wife at the end of September, police found over 7,000 cartons of fake cigarettes of multiple brands with an estimated street value of over 1.5 million yuan.

Police said Zhang and his wife confessed that they were acquainted with Pan in May. Pan claimed he had “channels” to purchase fake cigarettes, and started the illegal business.

Pan was responsible for purchasing the cigarettes and his wife Zhan kept books of inventory. Zong was hired to deliver the cigarettes to Zhang and his wife.

The fake cigarettes were purchased at 70, 90 and 130 yuan per carton and usually sold at 10 to 20 percent higher, police said.

Pan was still being hunted and investigation remained under way, police said.

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